Free Man Sent Back to Prison for 98 Years After Judge Finds Clerical Error

Rene Lima-Marin served 10 years on what he believed was a 16-year sentence. After being free for almost six years, he was arrested and sent back to prison.

Rene Lima-Marin with his sons, Justus, 7, and Josiah 4.
Rene Lima-Marin with his sons, Justus, 7, and Josiah 4. YouTube screenshot

Rene Lima-Marin robbed two video stores 15 years ago, when he was just 19. He walked into the stores with an unloaded rifle and demanded money. He admitted to the crime and was sentenced to what he and his lawyer believed was a 16-year-sentence. After 10 years of serving time, Lima-Marin was set free. He got married, fathered two children and purchased a home. He swore he would never do anything to jeopardize the new life he had created.

Then, earlier this year, the life he had built came crumbling down when a judge, citing a clerical error, sent him back to prison to finish a 98-year sentence. 

“Ninety-eight years for what?” he told Fox 31 Denver. “People have raped, molested kids, taken lives and [gotten] 15, 20, 25 years. And I made a mistake and tried to steal some money, and I am given my entire life in prison? It just doesn’t make sense.”

According to the news station, the court system made an error, and therefore Lima-Marin’s lawyer was given the wrong information about his case. Lima-Marin claims that his lawyer instructed him not to appeal what he initially believed was a lengthy sentence because he was already in the best-case scenario, which was for all of his charges to run concurrently, meaning that the longest sentence he could be given was 16 years.

Per his lawyer’s advice, he withdrew his appeal for a shorter sentence. But the lawyer’s information, and the court file sent to the Department of Corrections indicating his sentences, were both wrong. Lima-Marin’s sentence was to run back-to-back, totaling more than 90 years.

During his initial incarceration, Lima-Marin was a model prisoner, never receiving even one write-up. 

“It’s that everyday, happy, white-picket-fence type of life,” he told the news station about the life he’d created since being set free. He was free for almost six years before he was told of the court’s mistake.   

“I would have never had a wife. I would have never had children. I would have never bought a house. I would have never done any of those things,” he told Fox 31. “But I did those because you let me out. And now they are being punished for something they had absolutely nothing to do with,” he said to the news station, referring to his family.